May 18, 2012

Review: Hourglass

By: Myra McEntire
Published: June 2011 by Egmont
Format: Hardback, 390 pages
First Reviewed: July 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

One hour to rewrite the past...

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

Rating: 2/5

Literally? My first thought was, Man, I hate the font they used for this. Not the story's font, but the main title font, like on the cover and for the chapter headings. Why? Because it reminds me of the fonts everyone uses who uses online photo editors to make book covers. No offense to anyone (you can make great covers that way, for sure, but none ready for a published book, right?). Anyway, that bugged me, but not as much as the book itself. What is it with this original premises being screwed over by annoying romance that makes the lead overly attracted to the point where I want to rip my hair out? Reading that back, it makes no just read on. :)

Overall, I liked McEntire's writing. I enjoyed many of her stylistic choices when it came to Emerson's inner dialogue as well as her simple, yet not too much so prose. I also felt she captured a solid voice with Emerson, even if I have my nitpicks about her character. It stayed consistent, even when the character didn't.

My problem, though, was the fact I couldn't really connect with it. I just couldn't get into it. There were times when I had to re-read a few lines as well as times where something just didn't make a bit of sense--whether it was a piece of dialogue or an explanation. And, of course, I found more errors than I would have liked. Two, in particular, were both quote issues; one place was missing quotes while another place had one smack dab in the middle of a dialogue line. Ahem--editors.

Anyway, overall, it was good. I just couldn't connect with it or really get into it like I would have wanted.

If it weren't for a few very solid and likable characters, I would have liked this even less. The good first: I loved Thomas, Emerson's brother, and his wife. They were the most likable for me out of the entire cast of characters. Their relationship with each other was both realistic and strong and adorable. He was a great and realistic, protective brother while she was a sweet and motherly figure toward Emerson. I found myself caring more about them than any of the others. Unfortunately, they were the only characters I truly loved.

Emerson, I just liked. In the beginning, I thought I would love her. She seemed like a strong character who had been through a lot in her life, and I thought I would only see her grow. But just when the major turning point showed up--AKA Michael--she just went downhill. She had some good lines here and there, but then I really got annoyed with hearing her talk about Michael's, and then Kaleb's even, looks. Aside from the beginning, I never identified with her and I didn't care about her. She was just...a typical, too-commercial female lead, obsessing over a boy and his looks and falling in love with him within seconds, and then when the real meat of the plot and premise pick up, she just pretty much goes through the motions. She had so much potential in the beginning, and McEntire could have made her such a strong yet broken character. I think she attempted it, but I don't think she succeeded.

And where do I begin with the boys? In lamen's terms: They were just okay. I never connected with Michael very much, and while I did connect somewhat with Kaleb, it was just too fast. He jumped into Emerson's life like BAM! And I was like WHOA! Okay, no, I wasn't, but still, it was just like he wasn't there and then he was there. There was no getting to know one another--in either case, actually--and it was all romantic attractions. It's sad, considering the love triangle isn't really a love triangle at all, but (spoiler, sorry) Kaleb and Emerson have their little thing (whatever you want to call it) and the sad thing is, they connected on more of an emotional level than her main love interest. The boys were just okay. Clearly made to be "perfect in the unperfect way" in order to please the commercial paranormal romance market. You know, where the guys are there to give the main character a romance? Anyway...

As for the remaining characters, some were pretty good--I liked some of the twists with true identities--but others I felt were thrown in and not cared too much about. I wanted more with Lily, Nate, and Dune. Even Ava. They were just there. I think McEntire spent too much time making sure Emerson was being attracted to the love interests instead of focusing on creating great characters all around.

The premise? Incredible. I loved the overall idea of this. It was both original and (at least, it could have been) exciting. An unique spin on time travel utilizing the past and the future and something that if pulled off well enough (for me) could have easily been a five star book. But, alas, what always happens with these amazing storylines, followers? Ah, you know...

The romance.

The romance. The romance. The romance. It kills these books, in my opinion. And no, I'm not anti-romance. I'm anti-romance that is unnecessary, and/or takes away from the plot, and/or takes away from the characters, and/or takes away from the main focus. In this case, all of those "and/ors" are just "ands." Jeezus, I mean...come on! It was pretty much that InstantRomance all over again. Okay, I take that back. It was "let me punch you in the stomach when I first meet you" and then InstantRomance. I mean...say what? Who does that? Seriously.

Anyhow, after the two lovebirds meet, which was very early on, the actual plot took a backseat while Emerson talked about Michael. Michael this, Michael that. Blah blah blah. Shut up. Move on. Where's the freaking awesome premise I was reading about? Instead, we got the typical "we're connected on a deeper level and I can't be with you because it's complicated" nonsense we get in every paranormal romance. I swear, I was going to throw something. I mean, I'm okay with attraction between characters in books, don't get me wrong, but this was just too much. And then when McEntire threw Kaleb into the loop, oh lordy, help me. It was just a mess, and the love triangle was completely unneeded. I'll leave it at that.

In short, the romance ruined it for me. This plotline had so much potential. Just read the tagline: One hour to rewrite the past. That hour was up within seconds. I would have loved to be on the edge of my seat with this, freaking out about the fact that these characters could die! Die! Never once during the climax was I excited or nervous. It wasn't intense. Sure, the twist brought some much needed conflict and it was some very interesting and creative thinking on McEntire's part, but it just wasn't enough.

Other: Dear McEntire,
For your next book, if you introduce new characters, will you give them names with more than one syllable?
Okay, no, for real. I don't think I've seen so much one syllable names in one book. Jack, Nate, Dune, Cat, Grace, Dru, and even "Em" most of the time. Phew! Also, what was with the short chapters? I'm not usually one to complain about chapter lengths, but some of the cut offs in this were just dumb. Harsh, I know, but true. She was going for dramatic, almost like there'd be a commercial break in between, and it was more annoying than affective.

Final Thoughts: I should have known not to trust a book with an extremely fresh and exciting premise. I should have known the romance would have killed it. But I never listen to my instincts. I was a bit harsh on this, but some more positive notes: It did hold my attention pretty well and there were parts that had me a bit intrigued, especially the twist at the ending. I loved the originality of this, but it just wasn't enough for me to give it three stars.

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